Thu, 09 Jul 2020

ALMATY -- Two opposition groups in Kazakhstan, one banned as extremist by authorities, are hoping to hold unsanctioned rallies in several cities on June 6 to demand democratic reforms in the Central Asian nation.

Authorities in Nur-Sultan and Almaty, where the Democratic Party and Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan plan to march, have blocked streets after announcing plans to carry out disinfection operations in those areas against the spread of the coronavirus.

In both cities, police were out in large numbers and reports said they were blocking the path of those trying to gather and march.

The rallies were called by the Democratic Party, which is headed by Zhanbolat Mamay, a politician and journalist, and the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) party, which is led by Mukhtar Ablyazov, an opposition leader.

The DVK was banned by a Kazakh court two years ago as 'extremist.'

Rallies were also supposed to take place in Shymkent, in southern Kazakhstan, and Semey, in eastern Kazakhstan. In both cities, there were reports of activists being detained.

Human Rights Watch has said a leadership change in Kazakhstan in 2019 'did not significantly improve respect for human rights.'

On March 19, 2019, Nursultan Nazarbaev resigned after 30 years in power, naming Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev as interim president. Toqaev was later elected in a June ballot that sparked protests amid allegations the election was neither free or fair.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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